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ESSAYS

A Day in the Life: Disney, February 1927

By Michael Barrier

Disney 1927 No. 1

Top row: Walker Harman, Ub Iwerks, Lois Hardwick, Walt Disney, Rudolph Ising; bottom row: Friz Freleng, Roy O. Disney, Hugh Harman.

Disney 1927 No. 2

Left to right: Friz Freleng, Walker Harman, Walt Disney, Lois Hardwick, Rudolph Ising, Ub Iwerks, Hugh Harman, Roy O. Disney

Disney 1927 No. 3

Left to right, Walker Harman, Friz Freleng, Rudolph Ising, Roy O. Disney, Lois Hardwick, Hugh Harman, Ub Iwerks, Norman Blackburn, Paul Smith, Walt Disney.

These photos of the Disney studio's staff, with the fourth and the last of the girls who played the title character in the Alice Comedies, were all were taken on the same day in 1927, probably sometime between February 5 and 10. Another photo from the same session is on page 84 of Walt in Wonderland: The Silent Films of Walt Disney, by Russell Merritt and J. B. Kaufman, and according to Dave Smith of the Walt Disney Archives, there was one more.

Friz Freleng had joined the staff on January 15, and Norm Blackburn on February 5; Paul Smith had been on the payroll since 1926, but he left the staff on February 10. By the time he returned, on April 2, Rudy Ising had been fired (as of March 26), and production of the Alice Comedies was ending, the series having been supplanted by the new Oswald the Lucky Rabbit series. So it was only on those few days in early February that everyone in the photos was on the Disney staff.

Walt and his staff had posed in knickers for a similar (and often reproduced) photo with the previous Alice, Margie Gay. Probably the photos from both sessions were intended for publicity purposes, although Rudy Ising, writing to me in 1979, wasn't sure: "No particular reason for the taking of these photos that I can think of. Walt did like to have photos taken of himself and his staff every so often. ... Maybe he might have thought that being dressed in suits instead of the now well known shot of us all in golf pants would be more dignified."

My copies of these photos originated with Rudy Ising and Paul Smith.

[Posted March 6, 2008]

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